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19 women allege medical abuse while in Georgia immigration detention center

By Molly O'Toole, Los Angeles Times on

Published in News & Features

WASHINGTON — At least 19 women at a Georgia immigration facility are now alleging that a doctor performed, or pressured them to undergo, "overly aggressive" or "medically unnecessary" surgery without their consent, including procedures that impact their ability to have children, according to a new report and other records obtained by the Los Angeles Times.

The new report was written by a team of nine board-certified OBGYNs and two nursing experts, each affiliated with academic medical centers — including those at Northwestern University, Baylor College and Creighton University — who reviewed more than 3,200 pages of records obtained for the 19 women. It comes just a month after a whistleblowing nurse at the Irwin County Detention Center set into motion a series of congressional inquiries and federal investigations into immigrant women's care at the facility, which is overseen by Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

The 19 women were all patients of Dr. Mahendra Amin, the primary gynecologist for the Irwin County Detention Center, the report says. The records, including pathology and radiology reports, prescriptions, surgical impressions and consent forms, sworn declarations and telephone interviews, detail and support the women's allegations of medical abuse by the doctor, according to the report.

The medical experts found an "alarming pattern" in which Amin allegedly subjected the women to unwarranted gynecological surgeries, in most cases performed without consent, according to the five-page report, which was submitted Thursday to members of Congress.

"Both Dr. Amin and the referring detention facility took advantage of the vulnerability of women in detention to pressure them to agree to overly aggressive, inappropriate, and unconsented medical care," the report states.

The medical team conducted its review in tandem with a coalition of advocates and lawyers representing the women that has been investigating the allegations, from Project South, the Georgia Latino Alliance for Human Rights, Georgia Detention Watch, the South Georgia Immigrant Support Network, the Southern Poverty Law Center Immigrant Freedom Initiative, the American Immigration Lawyers Association, and Innovation Law Lab.

 

Many alleged victims, the vast majority of whom are Black and Latino, from the Caribbean, Africa and Latin America, are coming forward for the first time to report their allegations of mistreatment since a nurse at the facility filed the 27-page whistleblower complaint last month, along with advocacy group Project South. The complaint to the Homeland Security Inspector General in turn prompted national outcry, congressional inquiries, and federal investigations.

Women under Amin's care were administered birth control and underwent procedures without their consent, including to remove their reproductive organs, such as the uterus, ovaries and fallopian tubes, according to the report and interviews by the Times with women whose cases were reviewed by the medical team.

One woman, Amanda, said she awoke from surgery with Amin, chained to a hospital bed.

The 28-year-old immediately asked a nurse: "Do I still have ovaries? Can I still have kids?"

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